Acknowledging Black excellence

William T. Robinson, Jr.

All too often we, African Americans are inundated with negative perceptions about our youth. It is enlightening and refreshing when we bring to light the astonishing accomplishments and achievements of our children from our own narratives. I am sure I am not alone when I ascribe to the awesome progress our children are making in all genres. They are going forth unscathed from naysayers and doubters, meeting their academic and professional goals with self-assurance and unwavering confidence.

Contrary to what you may hear about the destitute and dismal plight of some of our children, i.e., shunning education, going down a crime ridden path—there are just as many, if not more, academically inclined African American youth going forward undeterred in meeting their professional goals.

These young African Americans are found in our high schools, colleges and universities and in jobs in our communities, I am not just speaking from what I heard, but what I am observing personally when I see the achievements of young adults of family and friends. These young adults are realizing their dreams and going forward undaunted by the possibility of failure. They seem to be motivated and energized by their peer groups, sharing their same dreams and desires to be successful and productive in all their endeavors.

Many of these heroes are young millennials who want nothing less than the best for themselves and are not afraid of breaking traditional practices. They are deciding to get married later (in their mid or early 30s) opting to concentrate on developing their careers and enjoying the single lifestyle status—traveling and hanging with their friends without the responsibility of a family. Post secondary education is prevalent among many of these African Americans young adults as well as a rising presence of entrepreneurism. Putting it in street terms, ‘they are killing it.’ We should all be exceedingly proud, because when our African American youth do well, we all do well.

This progression is only guaranteed to continue with the rising number of African Americans graduating from high school with honors and scholarships to high profile colleges and universities, culminating in the acquisition of successful and prominent jobs. Unfortunately, we as a group don’t spend enough time recognizing and acknowledging the achievements of our beautiful and promising African American youth. Too much emphasis is put on that faction of our youth that manifests negative behaviors or academic deficiencies. This leads many to believe our children, as a whole, lack the drive to excel (so much for the power of the media to influence public opinion).

We all know that for the most part, a student’s probability for academic success depends on the resources and opportunities made available through an exceptional education. Therefore our public school system must take its share of the responsibility, especially because it makes an issue of targeting certain groups of students. Regardless of the rhetoric, one may be exposed to, many of our children are not falling for or adhering to the negative stereotypes or subliminal messages hoping to relegate them to a state of inferiority. This can be noted when my friends and I see the achievements of our children in reaching their goals as engineers, pharmacists, educators, doctors, corporate managers, policemen, firemen, bankers, realtors, technology specialists, entrepreneurs, etc.

I think that something all these successful young African Americans have in common is the support of those who believe in them, the stress put on the importance of education, and being made to believe they can fly. I’m sure I speak for all parents, loved ones, relatives, and friends of these movers and shakers when I say: “You make us proud, continue to soar.”